Well it’s official: John Baker of Kotzebue, Alaska is the winner of the 2011 Iditarod Sled Dog Race and it could not have happened to a better guy. Baker is now in select company with a group of individuals that make this sport what it is today. From the likes of Lance Mackey, Susan Butcher, Libby Riddles, Doug Swingley, Martin Buser, Rick Swenson, Mitch Seavey, and a host of others that crossed under the burled arch at the end of the 1,049 mile race from Anchorage to Nome.
Baker finished the race in record time smashing Martin Buser’s record of 8 days 22 hours. Baker raced from Willow to Nome in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds and slicing over two hours off the previous record.
I will have a follow up story on John Baker later on but first let’s talk about prize money for the mushers. To the drivers it is not about the money, the fame, the glory, the sponsors or the microscope that they are under until at least the first Saturday in March of 2012.
To them it is about the dogs.
The total purse for the 2011 Iditarod is $528,000. This a a long way from the record high of $875,000 in 2008. Some could blame the economy, especially where the big name corporate sponsors are concerned, others could cite the ever increasing cost to put on a race like this.
John Baker will receive $50,400.00, which is the same as last year. He will also get a brand new Dodge Truck.
Just a side note to us fans, you can still buy a ticket to win one of these brand new Dodge trucks. The raffle tickets only cost a hundred bucks and they give away two of these beautiful rigs at the Alaska State Fair in September. I don’t think you have to be present to win. And the best part is they only sell a limited number of tickets so the chances of winning are pretty high.
2011 Iditarod Prize Money by Position
The remaining prize money is divided up amongst the top 30 mushers. Each person that finishes the race is guaranteed $1,049. One buck for each mile on the trail.
Of course the money is nice. It can cost upwards of $80,000 to run the Iditarod annually and most of that goes to feeding the dogs. For many of the mushers that have very small kennels without deep pockets–many of them living literally from month to month to run down this dream, the prize money is a welcomed reward.
But as I have said before, mushers are doing this for the dogs. They do it because they are having fun on the trail and they are doing it to prove to themselves and their dogs that they CAN do this. For many musher’s, especially the rookies, this is a one shot chance of the lifetime. To others you may see them next year and others will take a year or more off. It is just so expensive to run this race.
But one thing is for sure, no matter what place the driver comes in this year in the race– by the end of the week they will all be doing the same thing.
Picking up poop, continuing their chores, and living a life that most of us can only dream about.
Rock on, all of you 2011 dog drivers and mushers. You help make this sport exciting and it is always one heck of a ride!
Listen to our Iditarod coverage daily on Mush! You Huskies. You can find us on iTunes (search Dog Works Radio) or click on Mushing Radio now.
Photo: Google Images